Vaping and e-cigarette use have taken teenage society by storm with their trendy packaging, unique flavors and easy accessibility. Schools everywhere are struggling with this issue, as students are skipping class or leaving school grounds during lunch to get their nicotine fix. More recently, the media have been covering stories exposing the consequences of inhaling these popular chemicals: people’s lungs are collapsing. Information explaining false ingredient lists has also reached the media, with companies selling products claiming that there is no nicotine, when in fact there is. This new phenomenon even takes place at Riverside, in violation of the school’s Code of Conduct which prohibits possession of any illegal or restricted substances. “Vaping is very popular around the school. I see a lot of kids in the bathrooms during lunch and during class, hiding in the stalls or sitting on the sinks. Also, near the baseball field and in the forest,” said an anonymous Riverside student.

Different types of vaping devices that teenagers use, the fourth from the right being a Juul (the most popular)

Many forms of vape products exist which young people consume, including Juuls, Nords, Breezes, Novos, Dab Pens and more, each differing in concentration of nicotine, flavoring and water vapor. All devices come in different shapes and sizes, with the common traits being small and easy to hide. In addition, they are able to be charged in USB ports and refilled with new “pods” and “coils” consisting of a variety of flavors. E-cigarette companies have faced backlash for targeting young people with their selection of flavors including fruity and appetizing names like, “Healthy Mango”, “Strawberry Lemonade” and “Watermelon.”

These new smoking devices were originally advertised as safer and cleaner than normal cigarettes, drawing customers of all ages to become addicted.  “My parents smoked cigarettes while I was growing up, so I did too. I eventually turned to vaping because I thought it was the healthier alternative,” said an anonymous Riverside student. With the recent fatalities, sicknesses and epidemic of vape use in society, lawsuits and bans have become more common internationally. For example, President Donald Trump proposing a national ban of vaping devices that contain fruity flavours according to The New York Times. Also, CBS news has reported that many parents of children in the United States who’ve developed new lung sicknesses tied to vaping, are suing Juul for “manipulating” youth with their advertisements and level of addictive chemicals contained in their products. Since vaping is a rather recent activity for people to take upon, long-term consequences are not fully researched and understood by medical experts.

Riverside Secondary principals and vice principals, at the annual grade assemblies, have openly offered counselling services to talk about addiction to help students to stop vaping, instead of automatic suspension.

Header photo courtesy of Dentistry IQ